Joseph Herrin (08-01-08)
On August 8th Randy Simmons and I will be leaving Georgia to travel to Indiana where I have been invited to speak to a discipleship group for a period of four days (August 11th - 14th). The leader who invited me asked that I arrive on Saturday the 9th, which makes it expedient for me to depart Georgia on the evening of August 8th.
It was back in April that I first received an invitation to speak to this group. The invitation came during a season of camping where I was seeking the Lord to discern His will for me in coming days, and the character of the coming ministry. I felt it was significant that this speaking invitation came at this time when God was revealing to me things to come. It was made known to me that the period from April to August would be a time of preparation in which God would allow me to get a number of things in readiness, including publishing four of the books the Spirit of Christ directed me to write.
August seemed an auspicious time to head out, for it is the 8th month of the year 2008. As plans became even more firm the Spirit eventually revealed that my departure date was to be 8/8/8. If you read the recent blog titled Gospel Chemistry, you will recognize that there is great symbolism in the number 888. This is the number that pertains to the Son of God. The numeric value of the name Jesus in the Greek is 888. Eight is the number of new beginnings, and Christ was the “first born from the dead.” Yahshua is the first of the new creation man.
The following was also mentioned in the article on Gospel Chemistry:
I looked at the Periodic Table of the Elements to see what element had 8 electrons, 8 protons, and 8 neutrons. I observed that the element Oxygen perfectly satisfied all of these criteria. How wonderful and appropriate this seemed.
Oxygen is an eight sided crystal. Oxygen is colorless, being invisible to the sight. This is fitting as Christ is said to be “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15). Also oxygen is absolutely essential in order to have fire. In fact, fire is defined as “rapid oxidation.” Once more this is fitting, for John declared of the Son of God that He would baptize men with fire. Christ also declared, “I have come to cast fire on the earth.” How fitting then that He is represented by oxygen.
About a month ago a Christian brother I had recently met from the Atlanta area, allowed me to travel with him to go hear a minister with a prophetic gift speak in North Georgia. Neither of us had ever met this minister, nor had we any correspondence of personal knowledge of him, nor he of us. At the end of the meeting this minister began to share words of knowledge and prophecy to the group of 20-30 people who were in attendance. He spoke to the brother I had ridden with first, though we were in the back row. I was impressed with what was said of this man, for in the short time I had known this brother I had discerned a few things about him and what was spoken to him prophetically had the ring of truth.
I was one of the last people to whom this minister spoke. He looked at me and said, “God is preparing you for a ministry of teaching and the teaching will be with fire.” As I mentioned, this minister did not know me. He did not know that I was a teacher who had been ministering largely through writing, nor did he know that I was in a time of preparation to be sent out to take the message God had entrusted to me to the people of God. It was evident to me that He was discerning things by the Spirit of Christ, and whereas it was not news to me that I had been called to be a teacher, I began to ponder what it meant to teach “with fire.”
What this man had prophesied was brought to mind again when I later learned that the day I would leave to begin this ministry would be 8/8/8. As mentioned, this number pertains to Christ who said, “I have come to cast fire upon the earth.” The number also pertains to the element Oxygen which is essential in order to have fire.
Some have supposed that I have been very excited about this call into a ministry of teaching, but my thoughts and emotions have been more of reticence, and at times even of great reservation. I formerly served as a minister in a number of churches, and in the end the experience was not positive. The message the Spirit led me to share was not accepted, and in the rejection of the message was also the rejection of the messenger. I have had high hopes at times that God would raise up a purified people to the praise of His glory. At one fellowship after another I had expectations of God beginning this work, only to see the people turn aside from the things of God, or to reject that which was necessary for them to be qualified. The last experience was the most disappointing, and it left me in great perplexity at what the Father was doing.
Through the course of these failures and the ensuing wilderness period, I have been learning how destitute I am of any power to bring forth increase for the Kingdom of God. Like Moses in Midian, all thoughts of personal qualification have been laid in the dust. I have learned that neither education, nor knowledge of spiritual truth, nor skill in speech, or any other human attribute can bring forth an advancement of the Kingdom of God in even the smallest degree. Truly, “the flesh profits nothing.”
Through scores of conversations over the course of the past 9 years I have learned that I am not able to open the eyes of those who are spiritually blind. I cannot cleanse the leper of their fleshly impurity. I am unable to resurrect the spiritually dead. The soundest arguments and most persuasive speech are all vanity, they are empty and devoid of power. Only the Spirit of Christ can bring life out of death.
As the date has been getting closer for me to return to Egypt to bear the message God has given to me, I have thought much on past failures. I have thought, “God, I have gone to your people before and was rejected. Why would they listen to me now?” The impotence of human words and efforts has been greatly impressed upon me in my Midian wilderness. Like Moses, I confess my inability to talk. I truly have nothing to say. My soul is empty. I observe all that is within my soul and I see it all for what it is. At the age of forty Moses could not free a single Israelite from their cruel bondage, and I observe this same lack of ability in me.
I believe my recent bout with sciatica (I am still experiencing it), has been a reflection of this wrestling inside. When the angel touched Jacob in the socket of the hip, Jacob’s natural strength was broken. From that day forward Jacob walked with a limp and he leaned upon his staff. In the past couple weeks I have had to borrow a cane to help me walk, and I have limped painfully. This is a parable of the condition of the inner man. God has afflicted me and caused me to become lame where I will no more try to bring forth any advancement for His kingdom through my natural abilities.
"In that day," declares Yahweh, "I will assemble the lame, and gather the outcasts, even those whom I have afflicted. I will make the lame a remnant, and the outcasts a strong nation, and Yahweh will reign over them in Mount Zion from now on and forever.”
There is a temptation in coming to understand that we have nothing of value to offer God, to give into depression and despondency. When we see that God does not need the strength of man, for He is omnipotent; He does not need the wisdom of man, for He has all wisdom; He does not need the restless works and activities of man, for all of His works are finished from the foundation of the earth, we are humbled in our estimation of our value to God. All He asks of man is for man to believe and obey. We have nothing to offer Him other than this.
Moses came to this emptiness in the wilderness of Midian, and God must bring all of His sons to this same place and condition. In my moments of wrestling with God’s call for me to go back to those places where I had met only with failure in the past, God sent me understanding. A dear brother in Christ who knows much about brokenness was led to write an article of tremendous spiritual insight and it arrived with the perfect timing of God. In this writing which Brad Daugherty titled Beyond Midian, are contained the following words.
The first of defenses, "Who am I that I should go.." was later followed by the plea, "Please send (someone else)." God always leaves us with unanswered questions in our life that bring us to a crisis of faith. There had once been a call in Moses' life, a burden placed upon his heart to alleviate the oppression of his brethren... The things that he was so burdened to do went horribly wrong...
Maybe in the tedium of Midian, he had replayed those failures countless times until at last learning to resign them into the hands of God. He was not resigned to the fact that he would one day be called to go back and complete what he had not yet finished. He was resigned to his own inadequacy. He had become resigned to Midian, this place of destiny for him. He was resigned to the fact that he would always have countless questions unanswered, letting them rest with God, accepting the nothingness and silence of the desert. Moses had acquired the perfect heart God had sought for him in Midian. Moses, in fact, had priceless Midian faith, but what Moses yet lacked was a faith that would call him out of brokenness, beyond Midian, to be God's chosen vessel in Egypt. The "who am I," was the spirit of resignation at work in him. The "send someone else," was the call into brokenness not yet accepted.
Moses' next line of defense was just as revealing. Exodus 4:1 "Then Moses answered and said, "But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice; suppose they say, the Lord has not appeared to you." It is apparent that there are wounds in Midian that are blows of death. It is these wounds that he is reliving here. It is the wounds that bring one to the end of oneself. Moses had been this route before, he had faced the wounds of rejection and unbelief in his brethren. He had known the wounds of discovering how weak and powerless he was. He had walked through this pain and sat day on end in the purifying fire of Midian, where self is destroyed in the flames.
It is a martyrdom few men know. It is not a martyrdom that goes down in a blaze of glory for the Lord. It is much more thorough than that. It is sitting quietly day in and day out waiting patiently in the fire of God. It is living in the silence when there are no answers. It is sitting in nothingness until our peace comes from God alone. It is somewhere in this silence, in this brokenness, where the man learns the Sabbath rest of God. It is where the entire life of man, all that he is and all that he has, becomes consecrated entirely to God. It is where everything becomes resigned into God's hands, where man has lost his will in order that he may find God's.
But maybe there is something beyond Midian which must take place before these wounds can be completely healed. It is making ourselves vulnerable once again to the leading of God beyond the wilderness gates. For Moses to go back was to relive those hurts all over again, it was to expose himself once again to the failure of long ago. It was learning to lift his eyes from himself and place them on the almighty God.
Lastly, Moses reveals to God one of his most painful weaknesses, a weakness that troubles him greatly and causes him great anxiety. Exodus 4:10 I am slow of speech and slow of tongue. Midian will bring you to a place that leaves you with nothing to say before men. It will empty you of past zealousness, youthful acts of "service" to God, and lead you in places of broken humility... Moses had reached a place where he did not feel able to say anything to men. Your greatest works in Midian become acts of silence and reverent humility at the feet of Christ. You learn to sit in the submission of patience, the discipline of waiting, your greatest call being that of inward contemplation, learning to love God in the midst of your brokenness.
You are made painfully aware of the utter insufficiency within you to do anything for God. You are made painfully aware of the corruptness in you that seeks something apart from God in all of our attempts to please Him. It is the restless activity in man that seeks to be justified by its own merits. It does because it feels good to do. It goes because it has a desire to go. Then there is the long painful process when God brings it all to an end.
I can see that I have been in this Midian wilderness for many years. A couple weeks ago I thought to begin laying out the talks I have been asked to give in Indiana. After a brief period of writing, I gave up the effort, dogged by thoughts of fultility. I questioned what good my words would do. I discerned that I had no power to lead others to truth, and no message within me that would bring increase to the kingdom of God. All seemed empty and vain.
If we discern our weakness but do not begin to reckon on the power of God, and the honor of simple faith and obedience, we will be cast into a state of depression. God wants us to see both sides of the coin. "Apart from Christ I can do nothing." And "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
God is calling me to arise and go beyond Midian, beyond being emptied, to a place where I look to Him to accomplish all His desire. This produces a humility in me. I do not consider that I have any great message that will bring light and life to the people of God. I do not have a store of messages that I can pull out of my pocket and run with at will. All is empty and powerless. Only that which Yahweh orders and empowers has any value, any purpose, and potential to bring increase to His kingdom and freedom to the children of God. Brad continues:
God is looking for the simplicity of heart that simply becomes obedient to the leading of the Holy Spirit. It sounds as the most elementary of Christ's teachings, but in it lies the gate leading into life. The preparation of Midian alone should foretell of its importance. It is a heart that does not look at its shoes, for it knows God will cause them to never wear out. It does not look at itself, for it has no confidence in the flesh. It simply does the next thing in faith which God has asked it to do and then lets the matter rest completely with God.
Have you experienced this breaking in your wilderness places? Have you come to the place where you understand that you are powerless to bring forth deliverance for the people of God? Some are yet to go into the wilderness to learn these lessons, but I know from the correspondence I receive that God has a remnant who have already been learning the lessons of brokenness.
A very odd thing happened a couple weeks ago on the day I read the writing Brad Daugherty had sent to me. I was sitting in a Christian coffee shop in Macon called The Joshua Cup. Outside a tremendous thunderstorm came up. I was reading about Moses’ encounter with God at the burning bush as the storm was raging outside. When I finished reading the article and the storm had abated I went out and immediately was met by a man who had been a resident at the rescue mission when I worked there. He said, “Did you see the tree that was on fire?” I asked him what he was referring to. He told me that lightning had struck a tree a couple blocks away and the tree had burst into flames.
I considered how odd this was to occur at the very moment the Spirit was speaking to me about the call God had on my life to go back to His people and to proclaim the message He would place in my mouth. It was as if God was saying to me, “Do you recognize that I am sending you forth even as I sent Moses? Do you recognize My call on your life as a burning bush experience?”
Why did God appear to Moses in a burning bush? The Bible tells us that “our God is a consuming fire.” Yet this bush was not consumed. This morning I received the monthly newsletter by C.R. Oliver in my e-mail. It arrived this first day of August and was titled The Baptism and the Burning. In it he spoke of God casting fire upon the earth and he described that there would be two bodies of people who would both experience the fire differently.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather the wheat into His barn; but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.' And with many other exhortations he preached to the people.
John, the Baptist, spoke clearly and concisely about two different kinds of fire. According to John, the chaff has to be burned with unquenchable fire! John did not hesitate during his oracle, using the same breath in which he spoke of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, he declared there would be judgment fire initiated by the Son of God. His report was both to the saint and the non-saint. The portent for the saint was to be a fire from on high and a baptism in that fire. Such baptism would undeniably be the mark of sonship.
Flames, however, would burn the chaff, who are not true sons. Everyone will be touched by one of these two fires.
There is a fire from God that burns within the true sons of God which causes no harm and no loss. We see this fire pictured on the fiery furnace of Babylon where the three Hebrew men were cast in. Only the ropes that bound them were consumed. They themselves suffered no harm. Not even the smell of smoke was upon them. God will cause all of His sons to pass through the fire that the things that bind them to sin and the world might be consumed.
In this last hour God will send forth His witnesses whose ministries will be attended with fire. The fire will set some men free, but for others it will be a fire of judgment. God will choose broken and emptied vessels after the pattern of Moses to be His witnesses. Surely the hour is very late. Many things are prophesied to be fulfilled in this day. May those who have been learning the destitution of the wilderness manifest both faith and obedience and answer the call of God when He appears to them. Though it requires that we return to the places of our former failure and rejection, may we arise in hope that He will at this time accomplish deliverance for His people.
May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days.
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